Thursday, February 07, 2019

Thursday, February 07, 2019 11:58 am by Cristina in , , , ,    No comments
The Age features the play The Moors, which opens today in Sydney.
When playwright Jen Silverman was grappling with a period of loss in 2015, she turned to the letters of Charlotte Brontë for comfort. It was the emotional terrain they evoked that gave shape to her acclaimed play The Moors.
"[The Brontës] were so contemporary yet they were so isolated and the letters that Charlotte Brontë had written about her family are so amazing, they are almost a myth of a myth," explains Silverman over the phone from New York.
"I've always found the intersection of the personal and the political fascinating, but I was attracted to [the letters] because of their anguish as well as their sense of humour. It's funny, because in the US, The Moors is seen as a commentary on power and gender. But to me, it is so personal – it is the play I needed to write in order to think about loneliness and isolation and intimacy."
The Yorkshire moors, buffeted by wind and blanketed with heather are so synonymous with the Brontës, it's impossible to picture them without hearing Heathcliff's footsteps. But for Silverman, this desolate landscape is the perfect setting in which to subvert well-worn tropes of heterosexual courtship and play with ideas around power, longing and the desire to be seen. [...]
"The younger sister wants to be seen by the governess, the governess is seen by the older sister in a way that lets her access an agency and power that she didn't think she was capable of," Silverman says.
​"The dog is seen by the bird in a way that he hasn't really been seen by anyone. It's really about: are we ever able to see each other in ways that aren't damaging?"
Gothic romance, a genre bound up in Victorian ideals of patriarchy and morality, lends itself powerfully to queer re-readings. For Silverman, who says English playwrights Sarah Kane and Caryl Churchill have helped shape her theatrical sensibility, moving away from the naturalist traditions that are often a mainstay of American theatre is creatively empowering. Playing with style and genre, she says, can give rise to radical possibilities – both on and off the stage.
"Theatre doesn't reduce itself to a soundbite, it demands that you sit in a communal space and grapple with nuance collectively and I find that vital and refreshing," she says. "But there has to be a reason if I'm asking people to assemble their bodies in a room.
"I've been to a few different productions where the characters within the play have reinvented themselves and it changed my own ability to reinvent myself. It helped me ask myself, 'what is possible?' That is my hope for The Moors and for all my work in theatre." (Neha Kale)
Author Maryse Condé writes for The New York Review of Books.
When I was ten, a friend of my mother’s, a primary school teacher like her but one who ordered her dresses from Paris, gave me a book for my birthday. Since she knew I had read every possible book by Flaubert, Balzac, Maupassant, Apollinaire, and Rimbaud, she wanted to give me an original present. The author’s name was Emily Brontë, a complete unknown to me—nobody at school had ever mentioned her name. The book, Les Hauts de Hurlevent, was a French translation of Wuthering Heights. From the opening pages, I was transported. I couldn’t help alternately laughing or bursting into tears. Just as Cathy exclaims, “I am Heathcliff!” so I was on the point of crying, “I am Emily Brontë!”
You might be surprised that a young girl from Guadeloupe could so identify with the daughter of an English clergyman living on the Yorkshire moors. But there is an area in Guadeloupe where the ruins of an old sugar mill and plantation house set in a desolate landscape reminded me of that setting. That’s the power and the magic of literature: it knows no borders, it is the realm of hard to reach dreams, obsessions, and desires, which unites readers through time and space. [...]
After this night of inspiration with Emily Brontë, I ran to thank my mother’s friend for her present and tell her the effect it had had on me. Naïvely, I added: “One day, you’ll see, I too will become a writer and my books will be as beautiful and powerful as Emily Brontë’s.” She gave me a dumbfounded and pitying look: “What are you talking about? People like us don’t write!”
A Comicosity contributor writes about writing for Comicosity.
One of the first columns I wrote was entitled “Beyond Good and Evil.” At the time, I ever-so-briefly got to talk about Dr. Doom and how I saw some parallels with the character of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. (Michael Hale)
Evening Standard recommends a visit to the National Portrait Gallery.
Literary lovers won’t want to miss the only surviving portrait of the Brontë sisters, painted by their brother Branwell, and a particularly elusive portrait of Virginia Woolf, by her sister Vanessa Bell. (Jessie Thompson)
The Telegraph and Argus reports that new Visitor and Discover Guides have been printed.
A total of 45,000 guides have been printed by Bradford Council’s tourism service, Visit Bradford, and are being distributed throughout the UK in order to attract visitors to Bradford and district in 2019.
The 36-page brochure showcases what’s on offer in Bradford and highlights to visitors the exciting experiences around the district.
More in depth, individual Discover Guides are also available for Bradford City Centre, Haworth and Brontë Country, Ilkley and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire. Each one details the attractions, events, food and drink, heritage and culture the area has to offer. (Tim Quantrill)
Book Talkies posts about Jane Eyre.


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